I've done a lot of soul-searching in the last few months...brief hiatuses from social media, countless books read, and a great deal of quiet reflection. I'm having a bit of an identity crisis, as many people tend to do once they start approaching the age of 30 (or 40, 50, 60...).
I'm a writer. My blog, resume, and LinkedIn page say so. But what does that actually mean? Does it mean I'm required to keep up this blog? Does it mean that I'm supposed to be laboring to write the Next Great American Novel? Does it mean that I should care about any of this?
My research, which is not backed by any scientific or professional resources, tells me no.
My life is mine to design. Every aspect of it, including my activities and how I fill my very precious time, are totally up to me. There are no rules here, and certainly no one is enforcing them if there are.
Therefore, how I define myself is up to me too.
I've taken a few months off because, quite frankly, I was trying to decide if this was still worth it. Did I really need to be a writer outside of my full-time editing job? So I spent three months without writing to see if my soul still craved it the way it used to.
And after the first month, I realized that I need writing.
Like many introverts, I am buried in my head most of the time. I have thoughts and ideas that I don't know how to express unless it's through writing. During this time of quiet, it felt as if something was hiding inside of me that didn't know how to express itself. I shushed it and asked it for patience—maybe in a while I would let it come out. When the desire returned.
Today it did. I woke up, ready to resume my new Saturday routine of reading a book, drinking coffee, and watching questionable Food Network chefs on TV. But something pulled me to the computer and opened up a blank Word document, and then the words fell out. I looked and saw my heart on the keyboard, bleeding and pumping.
So yes, I'm a writer. I'm a writer in the respect that I will always need writing like a human needs air to breathe, or a bird needs wind to soar. I'm a writer because, without it, I'm left gasping for words in the corner, waiting for someone to pull them out of me.
The snow is falling outside; quietly, slowly. Dancing toward the ground as if taking part in a silent ballet. It has come down all day, and I’ve spent the afternoon in my favorite place—in my warm home with my boys.
I’m nestled on the couch between them, my head on my husband’s lap, my dog’s head on mine; our breath moves together, in and out at the same speed. It’s as though we’re all connected by a thread that none of us can see, but we all sense exists.
With busy weeks behind us, we relish in the stillness, knowing that our weekends to come will surely be swallowed up with dinners with friends, visits with family, social engagements that we’ll dread ahead of time but love once we’re in the moment.
Our house hums with few distinct but familiar noises—the dishwasher whirrs quietly in the kitchen; tires break through the fresh snow on the busy road just outside our yard; the delightfully cheesy theme song from Star Trek: Enterprise breaks through the living room every hour or so.
It’s a Sunday built specifically for relishing in the laziness; a day where sweatpants and dirty hair are mandatory, and popcorn seems a perfect lunch. My legs begin to fall asleep from lack of movement, and I wonder if they’ll eventually stop working if I never move again; it wouldn’t be the worst thing to imagine, dissolving into the couch and being a spectator to every future conversation in this house.
It’s a Sunday built for ambitious planning for the week ahead, at least mentally; I imagine the books I’ll read, the poems I’ll write, the goals I’ll tackle head-on—a matador facing down a bull in a scarlet outfit. I accept these plans will likely never be realized and will fade into memory as they do every Monday evening, after the determination has materialized into exhaustion.
It’s a Sunday built for daydreaming, building imaginary houses and decorating them with the beautiful plans I have for our lives together; the nursery will be space themed, adorned with sweet images of stars that I hope our offspring will reach someday. Cosmo will begin walking through the house more slowly, gray fur taking over his muzzle. His tail will wag with joy when he sees our children toddle into the living room, welcoming their entrance with a wet kiss. In my head, I see Evan pick up the smaller members of our someday family, his face growing larger with an overflowing smile. I can see it so clearly.
It’s a Sunday built for gratitude.
I sit in the comfort of this day, of this life, and I drink it all in like a warm cup of tea. There are moments when everything else falls away and you realize how blessed you are—the moments when the Universe asks you to pause for a moment.
And when you do, it whispers in your now-open ears: Trust me. I have your back.
All is well.
It has been exactly two months since I’ve written anything. Not a blog post, not a poem—hell, barely even a fully composed grocery list. I just haven’t had it in me.
Much to the chagrin of every writer that ever existed, the urge to write is not an ever-flowing champagne tower that can just be tapped into. Eventually the waiter walks away, the bubbly stops flowing, and you’re left with an empty glass and no idea what you should be writing.
But then every once in a while, the urge comes back. You’ll be wandering through the store, block of cheese and bottle of wine in hand, and suddenly you’re itching to go back to the keyboard.
Today is one of those days.
I’d like to tell you that I missed every moment I was away. But the truth is, I didn’t.
I’d like to tell you that I felt bad for not posting a blog for two whole months, without so much as a warning to you all. But I didn’t.
You see, here’s the beautiful thing about adulthood that I’m just beginning to fully comprehend--I’m an adult, and that means I get to do whatever I want.
It’s a concept that I’ve always entertained but never fully vested myself in. Sure, I knew that, without someone telling me otherwise, I can wake up and eat ice cream for breakfast and never wear makeup again. But, as I’m slowly realizing, it’s deeper than that.
I’m an adult, fully in charge of my own decisions, but also fully responsible for my own happiness.
If I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to. Plain and simple.
And neither do you.
I temporarily left the blog and writing world, knowing that when the time was right, you’d welcome me back with open arms. I knew that, when it would make me happy, I would post again. And I will likely drop out again for a while and only post when I feel like it—and that’s totally okay.
If there’s something in your world that isn’t serving you or no longer makes you happy, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with it. (Or with them, if it’s a person.)
No one is forcing you to do anything. And nobody else is ultimately responsible for making sure you like your life except for you. So, if you don’t, please do something about it.
There are too many copies in this world: be yourself and do what makes you happy.
Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Own your flaws, your attributes, and all the things in between.
Speak up for yourself.
Demand respect for yourself and your time.
Honor the things you love.
The minute you realize, damn, I’m amazing, so will the rest of the world.
Moments exist in life that serve no other purpose than to bring us back to reality: fights with your best friend where you clearly in the wrong; being rejected or embarrassed; a family member getting sick; a loved one dying.
God or whatever you want to call that Supreme Being above us is a big fan of humility—not in terms of humiliation, which is an entirely different animal, but reminding us that we are not perfect and we will falter.
But most importantly, we are reminded that we can get back up—that there are things greater than our struggles, anxieties, and misfortunes.
In times like this, when I've been knocked down and told to re-evaluate my situation, an overarching theme stands out.
Most of what you think is important doesn't actually matter.
Your job is important. But should you let the piles of undone work take over your family time or occupy your thoughts while outside of the office?
You may fret about your physical appearance. And yes, feeling good about you the way you look is worthwhile. But is it worth stressing over? Are those extra 10 pounds worth the self-abuse you heap on yourself?
You may worry about where you will be in 5, 10, or 20 years, but will that change the present?
Popularity, if you're doing enough with your life, what you eat, how you carry yourself, what your friends think of you, how much stuff you have, and how much money is in your bank account—the list of fascinations goes on and on.
But, friends, this is not the stuff that matters.
Sure, on a practical level, some of it is worth entertaining. (You need money to buy food, so keeping an eye on that bank about might not be a bad idea.)
But the point is, life isn't worth stressing about things that aren't serving you.
When you think about what makes your soul happy, is it really what you wore last week? Or if your friends laughed at your joke? Or if your boss likes you?
Your soul doesn't give a second thought to any of that stuff.
So where does humility play into this?
Humility reminds us of the importance of our life—as well as the experiences and people with which we fill it.
The love you give to your family and friends . . . this is what matters.
The relationships you foster and grow over time . . . this is what matters.
The generosity you bring to the world around you, taking care of anyone and everyone you can . . . this is what matters.
The way you nurture yourself, both body and spirit, so you can better give yourself to your passions . . . this is what matters.
So slow down: appreciate this moment, and remember that life is so fleeting and yet so full.
That is what matters.
Guys, Mondays are hard.
Even the best Mondays seem tortuous to get through, which is a bit of a conundrum to me—Monday's the beginning of a new week, a fresh start, a time to seize the day and run with it!
. . . that is, until you get to your desk, see dozens of blinking, unread e-mails, get buried under a mountain of paperwork and tasks, and feel general discontent that your beautiful weekend is already gone.
At the end of your work day, even though your home to-do list grows exponentially, the only energy you can muster is to sit on the couch with the TV blaring and your eyes gazing listlessly at the screen.
Sound familiar? We've all been there. And considering it's Monday night, some of us are still there.
But here's the question: how do we recover so that the rest of our bright, shiny week doesn't end in the same sad state of despair and laziness?
With this post, I mean to say one thing: you are important. The work you do is important. The energy you bring to this world is even more important. So, if you can do what you can to make your place a little brighter, a little more comfortable, then what are you waiting for?
Hey, you. It’s a Saturday morning, and I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee, my pup snuggled on my lap. And as I often do when surrounded by Cosmo cuddles, quiet, and warm beverages, I’m thinking.
I’m thinking about the novel I should write, all the research I need to do for it, the book of poetry I need to keep working on, and the list goes on and on. There are so many boxes to check off in my “Writer’s To-Do List.”
Whatever it takes to accomplish that dream, right?
But before my coffee grows cold, here’s my main thought of the day for you to consider:
We all have goals and dreams in this life—aspirations and passions that keep us chugging along when the minutiae of it all threatens to drag us down.
Not only that, this world is trying so hard to make you fail. It doesn’t matter if you’re a singer, writer, artist—there are so many people out there, doing the same thing you do, probably just as well, and they’re all trying just as hard to achieve success. Plus, on top of working to meet your goal and rise to the top of the crowd, we have families, work responsibilities, and the hard work of simply staying alive on a day-to-day basis.
How do we rise to the top of a sea that never settles, constantly threatening to toss us overboard?
It’s simple--believe in yourself. It’s half the battle.
C.S. Lewis once said, “We are what we believe we are.”
We can’t control the actions of everyone else trying to be better than you, nor can we control the context in which you’re attempting to thrive—life has its own agenda. But you can control your own circumstances and attitudes.
If you want to be a writer, you need to say you’re a writer. Dream about it, declare it, write constantly, and wear that title on your sleeve. You want to be a great parent? Do you what you need to do to live up to your own guidance of that. This works in literally every situation. If you believe you’re amazing, then you’re just one step closer to actually being there.
But don’t doubt yourself, don’t knock yourself down, don’t believe you’re capable of anything short of greatness.
The rest of the world will do enough of that for you.
If you believe in yourself and the quality of your work, everything else comes more easily.
It’s a hard battle, full of obstacles and doubt, but it’s necessary to realize the best version of you possible.
For what it’s worth, I believe in you, too. Now go out there and make something beautiful.
I'm here to let you in on a little secret: this world doesn't want you to be yourself.
We live in a confusing, change-encouraging society. In the midst of chaos, surging emotions, tense political battles, and the like, it's far too easy to forget who we are—to lose our grounding on a shaky sea.
And in this hurricane, I'm sometimes left shivering and wondering: who the hell am I?
Maybe you're like me and sometimes forget the things that make you you--your goals, what you find funny, the silly bits that enjoys watching cat videos for hours on end, your idiosyncrasies, and so on.
Just calm down, take a breath, and use these seven tricks to try to reconnect with You:
Above all else, remember this: when you lose yourself and all feels hopeless, you will always be there. You might be hiding in the very crevices of your soul, but all of your hopes, desires, and dreams remain.
And there's nobody better than you, you authentic, wonderful thing.
Often when you hear people discuss physical things, they throw around the phrase "quality over quantity"—the expensive, well-made shoes are worth more in the long run than the eight pairs of cheap sneakers in your closet, the subject matter of the books in your collection holds more weight than the number of stacks, and so on.
But less often do you hear the concept applied to people—living, breathing things with personalities that are harder to quantify or appraise.
Let me tell you about my dear friend, Becky. Inseparable in college, we practically finished each other's thoughts and spent every possible second together for years; then, as it often does, life happened. She graduated and moved to grad school across the country. Devastated doesn't seem correct for the way I felt the day she left; as we described it earlier today, I felt as though my tribe abandoned me.
We keep in touch as well as we can via e-mail, texts, and phone calls, but coordinating time to connect in the midst of marriages, careers, and differing time zones proves difficult. Even though we communicate less, I always feel that she walks by my side during every big event and every time I doubt myself.
Being separated by so many miles, Becky and I rarely get to see each other in person (usually only once every year or so). I treasure every minute of that time. We laugh, cry, and babble philosophically as though we never parted.
And why am I telling you this?
Today, I had the distinct pleasure of spending the afternoon with my Becky, and it was another one of those moments—the move never happened, the miles didn't exist, the talking never stopped.
Relationships, too, boil down to quality vs. quantity.
I may not get to spend several days a week with my friends that I love so much, or my family that lives across the state, but when I do, I make sure that those moments count.
I've discussed the importance of being present and enjoying the best times of your life while you're in them; this is a concept with which I continue to struggle. But as I sat there, laughing over a glass of wine with a friend who's been through so much with me, I didn't want to be any place other than that moment in time.
You may have a lot of friends, and if you do, that's great—I hope you cherish them and make sure they know how much you appreciate them. But if you're like me, keep your small crew of friends close and squeeze them with so much love that they'll never doubt your affection.
Record each moment in your personal happiness book and appreciate every second. You may never have that moment with those people ever again.
And so today, I say thank you to my friends—thank you for your love, thank you for your loyalty, thank you for always being there when I needed a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.
But most importantly, thank you for being quality.
Cosmo and I went on a walk today, just like we do any other day. It's been a while since we needed to bundle up, but the biting Fall air felt a little more like early Winter. Against his will, I zippered the pup up in his jacket, outfitted myself in a hat and mittens, and headed out the door.
After about 30 minutes in the chilly but beautiful outdoors, with the sun fading into the skyline, we migrated back inside to the warmth of our house.
As I removed our excessive layers and Cosmo attempted to shake off the imaginary water rolling down his back, I looked around and took in the view.
Our home isn't anything special—a standard 1970s-era split-level in a cul-de-sac. There's far too much paneling in the basement and carpet too old to ever be considered fashionable. The ceilings sparkle with the artificial popcorn spray that invades many suburban homes. There's so many projects to be done to this place, so many things that could be improved.
But I wouldn't change a thing.
Our home isn't anything special, but it's just that—home.
The entryway where I stand is where I drunkenly asked Evan if he was going to kiss me for the first time. When I look in the living room, I'm reminded of the sparse setting for one of our first dates: a big-screen TV, nothing on the walls, Evan's hand-me-down floral sofa, and Seinfeld filling the room. When I walk down to the basement, I see the fireplace where he proposed to me on Valentine's Day almost three years ago. The kitchen emits the scent of the meals we've made together, the wine consumed, the birthdays celebrated. The walls are full of wedding pictures, family photos, and souvenirs of great times.
Every inch of our home pulsates with memories. These are the places where we've lived, loved, and tried to grow up together (as hard as it proves at times).
Sure, it's often covered in piles of laundry, stacks of mail for sorting, and eight million books, but to me, it's perfect.
Whenever I look around, I'm reminded that a home isn't just a physical building. It's a place where not only your loved ones live, but where your love lives.
Coziness is basking in the incredible glow of that love, embracing it, and looking beyond its faults. Much like our house, our love isn't perfect. But I've never felt happier or warmer than I do when I'm snuggled up in this place, with this man, with this life.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.